There is no shortage of lists of social media tools and services to help establish and manage communities. The following is a list of the five tools and services that I am currently using and would recommend to anyone trying to lessen the sometimes tedious burden of building a community from scratch, managing it on an ongoing basis by focusing on the most engaged members, and still proactively reaching out to potential new members.
Socialbakers – This service is growing in popularity and doing a great job of educating the market through blogs and reports. Facebook was the focus at first, but they now cover Twitter as well. While you can track your own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, you can also track your competitors’. Socialbakers also provides industry data for comparison. Learning post types and frequency, the resulting engagement rates, and the most influential fans and followers is just some of the information that can be gleaned from Socialbakers reports.
Tweetadder – This is a great way to systematically identify potential members of your community. For example, you can search by keywords or hashtags and then filter by location should you wish. You can set it to autofollow accounts, but there is always the risk that you might be seen as a bot and get blocked. I tend to use it to identify accounts around key topics and then follow them manually. It takes a bit more time but voids the risk of having your brand tarnished by looking like a bot.
Socialbro – While you can also search keywords and hashtags with Socialbro, I like how it handles the exporting of followers of particular accounts. If you want to track those who follow who you follow in order to add more likeminded people or key audience targets to your community, Socialbro can help. It can provide some great analytics, such as the best time to Tweet based on the time of day and day of the week your followers are most active. You can also filter the accounts you are following based on when they tweeted last or if they are using Twitter’s default avatar and unfollow dormant accounts.
Hashtracking – If you have an event, online or offline, coming up and it has an associated hashtag, then Hashtracking is something that you should consider setting up in advance. You can track the hashtag and the conversations on Twitter containing it before, during, and after the event. By doing so, you get a good idea of the reach, audience size, retweets, and most popular tweeters from the conversation.
Twylah – I am an avid user of Flipboard on iPad and iPhone because they render your Twitterfeed like an electronic magazine, making it easier to consume content more easily as they pull in the content found at the links distributed over Twitter without you having to click on them. Twylah does essentially the same thing but without the necessity of an app. An increasing number of Twitter accounts —individuals and brands — are setting up Twylah pages for their accounts to provide enhanced experiences for their followers. This also helps those who do not follow you on Twitter, or who are not on Twitter at all, to get a sense of the kind of content you share via Twitter and the value they stand to gain by following you.
There are more tools and services than I have covered here and more being introduced almost every day, but I invite you to check out those that I have mentioned above. If you know of others or have some of your own favourites that you would like to mention, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.